Created: November 27, 2020 06:32 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Black Friday brought shoppers out to the mall and local businesses in droves.
At Eastview Mall in Victor, the parking lot was nearly full and the sizes of the crowds looked about the same as any other Black Friday.
"We drove by the mall and said, 'Oh it kind of looks like any other day...' but being in here I'm kind of surprised by how many people are actually here today," shopper Leah Shepard said.
Of course, while crowds looked the same as in past years, there were some major differences in today's shopping experience. Shoppers noted that because stores are capping the number of people inside, lines outside of stores seemed longer this year.
"Only thing I've noticed different is longer lines, but I've noticed lines before for Black Friday," shopper Empress Phelps said.
She also mentioned that with large numbers of people, sometimes social distancing can be tricky.
"In certain stores like Bath and Body Works or Victoria's Secret it's kind of hard because the stuff is so close together and everybody's reaching over everybody," Phelps said.
Another big difference this year is the sales. This year, many retailers are offering longer sales in anticipation of fewer people shopping on Black Friday.
"They've been having 50% off sales for the last, like, week and a half. Like, they're way longer and especially in some of these stores these sales are at a greater capacity, like there's 80% off instead of 50% off, it's crazy," shopper Eliza Blazak said.
On the small business side of things, over at the Culver Road Armory Peppermint boutique also had lines. Staff was monitoring the number of people in the store, and capping it at 8 (staff included). As a small business owner, Tanbi Asher says she's happy her customers are opting to support Peppermint over going to the mall.
"We're just really happy that people are choosing a local shop over going to the mall or a large retailer, so it's actually been pretty steady, we still have people waiting at the door too to come in," Asher said.
To stay competitive with larger retailers, Peppermint is offering curbside pickup and free delivery within a five to eight mile radius of the store. It's also offering discounts to shoppers who donate at the counter to the Verona Street Animal Shelter in downtown Rochester. Asher emphasized the importance of supporting local businesses this year.
"I think this year more than ever, you know we've talked about this, that every $100 you spend, $70 stays in your community. I think it's so important for people to realize that if you want that business to still be there next year, then your actions will speak louder than words," Asher said.
Despite the growing concern about COVID-19 case numbers rising in our area, today shoppers found a bit of normalcy and tradition in Black Friday shopping.
"It's kind of a family tradition that we've always had," Shepard said. "We wanted some joy. We've been quarantining, we've been doing everything online, even grocery shopping we've been doing Instacart and having everything delivered, so we just kind of wanted to be out. And honestly, our favorite thing is Eastview Mall at Christmastime."
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